Design Sensibilities: Intangible and Qualitative Design Factors in Performative Design

Enactive Experience in the (Neuro)science of Form

Authored by: Kristine Mun

The Routledge Companion to Paradigms of Performativity in Design and Architecture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367076191
eBook ISBN: 9780429021640
Adobe ISBN:


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When we think about the term “intangible” it immediately brings to mind ephemeral qualities such as air and light, something we cannot “touch” or “grab” but is mostly “felt”. It is this felt sense that can be understood as the performative measure of design by how people feel in the space they inhabit. We perceive our world through the senses afforded in our body and all its organs, most importantly the brain. Our body as a whole sensory-motor mechanism is a system responsible for how we perceive, interpret and are affected by our environment. Research in neuroscience shows that while we give primacy to vision as the dominant way to gain information around us, the subtler way this is occurring is through the body, and in particular through movement. This chapter discusses how sense and sense-perception are actuated by and created in movement and most importantly that perception comes from action. If the experience of the user is often the felt sense, the performativity dimension could then be heightened when we incite movement as an intentional factor in architecture. To do this, we turn to form as the vehicle that motivates movement and structures the intangible qualities of experience that are emotive and are felt by raising a sense of delight, pleasure, exhilaration, tranquility, contemplation and many other types of human feelings. When action and perception are understood as experience through movement, the terrestrial ground is affective. Meaning, Experience Follows Form. The triadic formation of action–percept–affect that produces experience is described here through the works of Arakawa Gins, Lars Spuybroek of NOX and principles of perception discussed in the field of neuroscience.

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